Tonight I went to my second yoga class this week. This was after having taken seven months off of yoga, training for a marathon, getting injured and completely out of shape, going to physical therapy, and then (currently) making the arduous uphill climb back to some semblance of fitness. So you can imagine, it was an experience, and I'm not ashamed to admit that at many points I hated it.
Because no, I this is not relaxing. I do not feel my breath. I am not into the flow. And I have no idea where my inner peace is, but I seriously doubt I'm going to find it in a room full of Lululemon-clad women with the city sounds of sirens and street noise serenading us from the sidewalk.
But I go to yoga anyways. Because my back needs twisting, my hips need opening, and oh my goodness could my hamstrings and calves be any tighter??? I go because it's good for me. Forcing me to stretch for an extended period of time. Improving my core strength and stabilizing muscles and all those things that will make me better at running and (most importantly) will decrease my chances of getting injured.
But do I like it? At all? Today in class, while we were supposed to be clearing our minds, I thought about this...
So I've always had mixed feelings. I was not a fan in high school and college, but then I came to like Bikram when I first moved to DC. From Bikram I moved on to try other forms of yoga, and oftentimes enjoyed them too.
Last fall when my back was a mess, I went to yoga multiple times per week because it was pretty much the only exercise I could do: vinyasa flow, power yoga, bootcamp yoga -- you name it I was in. And I liked it. I liked the noticeable improvement from week to week. I liked how strong it made me feel, like my body could and would do whatever I wanted (within reason, let's not get crazy). I liked how I felt so in control of my movements. Want me to hold that pose forever? Sure. Oh so now my leg goes here? Yeah no prob. Another chaturanga (yoga push-up)? On it.
Of course I will never be a yogi-master, nor do I want to be. There are some ways my body just does not bend, and poses I doubt I will ever be able to do -- i.e., I have no interest in headstands or arm balances, and I don't care to master side-crow or dragonfly.
But I do want to get to the point that feels reasonably not terrible.
So are you ready for the secret? People talk about yoga like it's oh so great immediately and always, but like any sport or athletic endeavor, it takes time to get in shape. To get used to the movements. To know what's up in both your head and in your muscles. And just like running, once you get in shape, that is when it starts to feel really good.
In conclusion, despite the pure torture stretching and holding and balancing and holding will be for a bit, I'm on the yoga train for the summer. Namaste.